Virtual Reality – the next step in personal entertainment

Virtual Reality is a tech of the future, and as time passes by, AR and VR tech is getting more immersive and integrated into our lives. But it’s still a long time before VR becomes a piece of tech available for the masses, especially in Bangladesh. Despite being overpriced, VR is being developed in Bangladesh, with a lot of cheaper alternatives seeing use in Bangladesh among tech enthusiasts, developers and gamers.

Essentials and useful features

A lot of prerequisites are essential for a perfect VR experience. The best headsets feature head-tracking, motion-tracking and a surround sound. A 9-axis gyroscope helps a lot in this regard. Usually lower priced headsets rely on a smartphone for providing the experience, but dedicated VR headsets such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift have their own screens and hardware to make the experience better. Usually these headsets connect to a PC. A powerful PC will run these headsets with ease.

The affordable options : VR with smartphones

The Google Cardboard VR Headset

There are a lot of cheap options for VR. The cheapest DIY option is setting up a cardboard headset. Here’s a guide from Google to make your own VR headset. The headset doesn’t cost much to make, and only needs a pair of lens and a cardboard box. The experience doesn’t come close to a fully fledged VR headset, but it offers a sort of experience.

The Xiaomi VR Play

The main issue with Google Cardboard is the quality of the materials. You can easily save your time and efforts by buying a Chinese VR headset instead. Options among these include Remax, Xiaomi and the mildly popular VR Box 2.0, costing from a mere 500BDT to 1500BDT, depending on quality and features.

The Xiaomi VR Headset

Move up to around 5,000BDT and you’ll get surround sound built into the headset, as well as much better head support and hardware support with the Xiaomi VR 3D Glasses. You’ll still need a smartphone to enjoy the experience, but needless to say the headset itself is quite well built. The Samsung Gear VR is a much better alternative at a similar price, but it only supports Samsung Galaxy phone starting from the Galaxy S7.

The real deal : 3 degrees of freedom in hardware

3 degrees of freedom headsets involve stationary experiences, usually seated or standing positions which measure roll, pitch and yaw axes.

The Oculus Go

Currently, the cheapest headset with 3 degrees of freedom and hardware support is the brilliant Oculus Go. The Oculus Go promises a no-frills experience by removing the need for any wire or a smartphone. And the best part is the price. The Oculus Go costs 200USD for the 32GB version, and 250USD for the 64GB version. It seems like the best starting point for getting into VR headsets, as the headset supports Netflix and a few games from it’s store.

The Lenovo Mirage

The next biggest substantial update is the Lenovo Mirage. The Mirage is a daydream VR headset which doesn’t need a smartphone to support itself. While Mirage Solo is an excellent VR device, it simply isn’t worth the 400$ price tag, especially considering Lenovo’s selection of video games and apps.

In this segment, it seems the Oculus Go is the best option for casual VR entertainment and activities.

The really real deal: 6 degrees of freedom in hardware

6 degrees of freedom allow the user to walk around inside a physical space. In addition to the 3 degrees of freedom explained above, these headsets also measure surge, sway and heave. These headsets offer the most advanced VR experiences, but they need a powerful system to run.

The Playstation VR

The most affordable experience currently, with 6 degrees of freedom is the Playstation VR. The PSVR is a great VR system by Sony. It isn’t perfect, as there are other HMD (Head mounted devices) offer far better value. But the PSVR can support SteamVR, which in turn opens up a massive library of games. The only edge the PSVR has is the fact that it has a 120hz display. But it’s also a bummer, as the display inside is a 1080p display.

The Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift costs only 400$, and it’s the original pioneer of VR. Problem is, the Rift still needs a room tracker for it to work on certain games, and compatibility with Steam is still quite dodgy. However, the Rift stands among the headsets as one of the lightest ones in the market, and that goes a long way in terms of comfort.

The Samsung HMD Odyssey

To have the best value in terms of hardware VR, you have to spend 500USD for the Samsung HMD Odyssey. The headset is a WMR(Windows Mixed Reality) headset, and fortunately supports SteamVR app store. This means that all the games up on Steam is supported, including Skyrim VR and Fallout 4 VR. The display is fantastic, using Super AMOLED panels and the head tracking is class leading as well.

The HTC Vive

Another option in the range is the HTC Vive. HTC Vive doesn’t really need any explanation to describe it’s reputation, as the Vive already has a functional enough software experience when compared to WMR. Availability is an issue, and when compared to the Samsung HMD Odyssey, the Odyssey offers better build and display.

Utilities of VR

VR has become a useful and cost efficient tool for everyone. VR helps train workers for efficiency with little cost in a virtual environment. Creating capable workers with utility becomes a lot easier. Getting the equipment is the easiest part, but setting it up for business and integrating the system into technical architecture is the hardest part. If executed properly, it will bring a revolution to the industry.

Efficiency aside, AR helmets help bring up a heads-up display(HUD) to manage inventory for the workers. With proper wearables, it can help managers ensure workplace safety in factories by monitoring heartbeat rate and blood pressure, also being displayed in the HUD of the worker.

Tilt Brush

Artists can make 3D drawings and paintings through Oculus and HTC Vive. Google even has an app for Vive and Rift called Tilt Brush for 3D painting, featuring dynamic brushes such as smoke, snow, fire etc.

And as usual, it brings an entire new dimension to video games. The hardware hasn’t gotten perfect enough to feel more intuitive and convenient than keyboard and mouse, but it’s development has been tremendous. The Oculus GO and it’s affordable price is a testament of how VR is slowly becoming more and more affordable. At this point, we can definitely say that VR is the future, and it’ll go a long way.

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